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Jakarta Art Center Gets a New Life: Jakarta, West Java

Good art is never superficial. It always stimulates our thoughts and emotions. Its role is imperative in constructing an advanced society. Historically, a good art is a manifestation or synthesis of the current discourse in our social and cultural lives. Thus ideally, a good art needs to have a creative environment that encourages new ideas to flourish.

A decent space for art is not about all about fancy galleries, exhibition spaces or auditoriums, but rather a place that allows for interaction and the exchange of ideas as Zenin Adrian explains.

Currently, the Jakarta Art Center or Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) on Jalan Cikini Raya is not the most ideal space for creativity.

The center itself houses several institutions: the Jakarta Academy, Jakarta Art Council, Jakarta Art Foundation, Jakarta Art Institute (IKJ) and several facilities such as exhibition galleries spaces, performing art theaters, a cinema and planetarium.

Formerly the city zoo before it was moved to Ragunan, the Center is highly unorganized and seems disconnected from the rest of the city.

The facility’s buildings are scattered within the complex without any clear organization and circulation flow. Some old buildings are in poor condition and unsuitable for any activity.

In 1995, an effort was made to renovate the whole complex but it was stopped due to the economic crisis. Some buildings were demolished and one large theater was left unfinished.
Parallel to the effort of the Jakarta Chapter of the Indonesian Institute of Architects to promote design competitions for public building projects, the Jakarta Government conducted a Master Plan design completion for the Art Center to extract the best ideas for the future of the complex.

On November 2007, they announced four winners from 30 entries which were: Andra Matin for the first prize winner, Nauli S. Harahap for second place and Yori Antar for third place, Hasan Halim and Sadhi Sanggakala for the honorable mentions.

Each of them offers radical and unconventional strategies that provide an entirely new look for the complex while respecting the environment and the existing buildings.

Increasing density while also increasing green spaces and improving the pedestrian network that connects all of the facilities is a common theme for the winning entries.

First-prize winner, Andra Matin proposed reducing building footprints to allow more green space by elevating the new and some of existing buildings on stilt construction. One of the proposed buildings performs as elevated pedestrian bridge mixed with offices, dormitories/living quarters, and mini theater. The bridge connects IKJ, which is located at the far back of the complex, with main entrance of the complex.

Recognizing the current condition where IKJ seems isolated from the public life, Andra Matin placed an amphitheater at the far end of the complex by the Ciliwung River.

The strategy was intended to allow the general public to interact with the institute as part of its service to the community.

As a tribute to Ismail Marzuki, the composer of Indonesia Pusaka, Andra proposed a thematic garden with musical notes as the landscaping concept.

On the other hand, Yori Antar, the third-prize winner, focused his proposal to provide more garden space as a reaction to the previous function of the complex as the city’s pubic garden. His proposal includes a series of subtle/organic access ramps which connect the walkway platform with all of the buildings in the complex.

The ramps start at the front outdoor theater in the main entrance area and function as the new gate to the complex. The entrance of the outdoor theater is his proposal to redefine the old concept of the entrance gate which gives a greener image for the new art center complex.

The competition has attracted brilliant design ideas for the Art Center complex. I must commend the current Jakarta government for their efforts. More design competitions for public building projects should be encouraged to produce better public buildings and good governance. Let the best design rule!

Zenin Adrian can be reached at zenin.adrian@zadl.net